Tricia Knoll

Section 3 About Place Journal Volume III Issue II Voices of the Human Spirit aboutplacejournal.org
Tricia Knoll
 
Ecologist on the Whale Watching Cliff on Neahkahnie Mountain

On July 1, 2014 scientists discovered a dead female humpback whale near Glacier Bay in Southeastern Alaska. Known as Max, the 40-year-old whale is documented to have had had five calves and three grand-calves. She died from blunt trauma to her jaws from a collision with a ship. Scientists urge captains to slow their speed in areas whales frequent.

I speak with the voice I’ve been given.
While crickets sing and rats gnaw,
even blindness sees the spirals of loss.
Deafness longs for songs of whales.

While crickets sing and rats gnaw,
this ache is the ache of the lone wolf who roams.
Deafness longs for the songs of whales
passing in the legions of waves.

This ache is the ache of the lone wolf who roams
wilderness named for the wildness of does
passing below in the legions of groves.
My palms signal the wave roll of time.

Wilderness named for the wildness of does
Grace given, grace spent, for the regrowth of groves.
My palms signal the wave-roll of time
into the grunts of the law and the wind’s shallow sleep.

Grace given, grace spent, for the regrowth of groves.
Even blindness sees the spirals of loss.
In the grunts of the law and the wind’s shallow sleep,
I speak with the voice I’ve been given

to sing with whales in legions of waves.
 
 
Led to Water, I Chose the Drinking Gourd
For Dr. Zipper

My music lessons, false steps. My German grandfather
Willy J had an ear – that old photo of his jazz band,
our family’s legends about his one cigar a week
for Sunday opera on the radio, windows open.

Clarinet — the teacher suggested we stop.
I was tone deaf. Silence, he asked, your shrieks
of scared pigs and hunting coyotes.

High school chorus — the director plopped me
in the middle of second sopranos, butt up
against the canvas highlands of Brigadoon. In the back
I did not offend the stars.

Our family sipped music at Ravinia Park,
notes bubbling up into spotlit oaks, high humidity.
My father Hello Dollied after Louis Armstrong came,
sparser talk in the convertible after Resphigi by moonlight.

Dr. Zipper and his orchestra — they performed
in the gymnasium-cum-lunchroom below a thin stage
where kids made plays with cardboard swords.
My first 1812 Overture. His hair bounced. My fingers plugged
ears of cannon blasts. One of one hundred squirmy kids.

Herbert Zipper found his way to suburban Chicago from
Buchenwald, then Dachau, churning out his Dachau Song
from the camp slogan work shall set you free. He and near-dead
prisoners made instruments from stolen wire and wood,
played in secret on Sunday afternoons. I heard him.

I follow a drinking gourd,
astral route of dipper stars to a quieter day,
cross a river of ice without drinking,
walk my rhythm of cold feet going.
 
 
 
Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet whose work focuses heavily on “eco-poetry,” the interaction of humans and the habitats we share with flora and fauna. Finishing Line Press recently published her first chapbook, Urban Wild. Her poetry and haiku have appeared in over one hundred journals in recent years. More information and links to many online journal publications are available at triciaknoll.com.
 

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